Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I heart Agritourism

At our house, we school 6 weeks on, 1 week off. A whole week off usually affords us some rest and a renewed perspective when we return to our busy school routine. I try to "save" big projects around the house for these breaks; moving furniture around or switching out summer clothes for winter, or maybe even cleaning out the car*. And I defnitely like to plan some kind of adventure for the kids and I that we normally wouldn't make time for. 

Well, it's fall and I love fall and all that comes with it- rain, turning leaves, pumpkin everything. So this week I took the kids to a pumpkin farm. 

We've been to lots of pumpkin patches in our area but this one was new to us and it's now my new favorite. 

 Josiah says it's too bright. Washington native for sure.

Annie Oakley

Oh, this is one of my favorite things in the world: seeing my big kids learning to love serving their younger siblings.
There's Josiah's smile!

James makes a super cute horsey sound.
See the wooden cow Josiah is roping?
I guess cows need milk to make milk.

Okay. Let's stop for a moment and look at what my kids have enjoyed so far at this pumpkin farm:
1. "Horses" albeit pretty cute horses made out of yarn, plastic barrels and wood.
2. A tractor
3. A large wooden cow and a calf feeding bottle.
Why is this fun? 
It's agritourism! We pay to play that we are doing what some people do for a living! RIght? 

I have always felt just a tiny but conflicted about this. Part of me wants to run a get-up like this when my husband and I are grandparents... and the other part of me thinks wait! I want my kids to have a blast on a real horse or a real tractor or feeding a real calf. Admittedly, my view of farm life is a bit romantic. You know, all those cute animals and healthy appetites from workin' out in the fresh air. That's just what I think about sometimes when I'm paying to visit a "working dairy farm" that has a pumpkin patch and a coffee stand. Or a U-pick blueberry farm that that serves up blueberry breakfasts at it's onsite restaurant. Or a roadside attraction that charges for rides behind a tractor in a garbage can painted like a cow. Or a pumpkin patch that boasts helicopter rides over the cornmaze and goats that walk on narrow bridges above our  heads to food dispensers filled by your well-placed quarter.

But do you want to know what I really want? My own agritourism business?

No. I want one of these:

I want my own big barn full of corn to play in. We had so much fun smooshing through this enormous sandbox of corn. 

I wonder if they have to cover this up at night... Or if they have rodent problems... 

So here's why this is my new favorite pumpkin farm in our area: It comes down to the money, really. It was a flat fee for entering the play area with a very few extra activities that had to be paid for separately. We opted out of those extra things but didn't come away with the feeling that we were missing out. With 6 kids, we try to choose our group activities carefully and plan ahead. 

All right. 
I'm out of pictures. 

I'm probably not out of ranty/rave-y thoughts about agritourism but it's okay that don't share them all in one post.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Typical Again

So if you are just joining us, I've been recording a typical school day. Let's get back to the action.

So I'm still feeding Reuben and James has come to visit me... This can be a challenging time for me and the smallest people in my house. I think I really used to read to them... I'm pretty sure that was a standard activity when Mercy was a newborn. I would sit with Daniel and Michael and read to them. 

Josiah is ready to meet the challenge of Reuben's mealtime HEAD ON! It looks like the walkie talkie antenna is in a weird place, doesn't it?

 Settling disputes... I didn't realize how much of my time would be spent helping the kids to treat eachother kindly... any moms out there want to venture a guess at how often we do this? I mean, it's a worthy lesson to teach at home but wow. Sometimes it feels like it's the only lesson I'm teaching. And I wonder if it's sinking in. At all.

I'm happy and full!

I spit everywhere. EW.

And because he spits everywhere, it's time for a bath...

James really really wanted to help. I unwittingly let him play with a cake of soap that was on the counter. Soap Face!

More helping.

My big boys do their math assignments after our morning break...

And if they are diligent, they are typically done well before this time. To Daniel's credit, he did spend some time taking pictures for me and he was the unseen helper during Reuben's bathtime.

And finally, lunchtime. 

So there we are. 

A full morning of school and busy kids. 

It used to be that our afternoons were reserved exclusively for resting which meant that I had a bunch of time to myself. Now, after lunch, the older kids and I tackle the subjects that require the least interruptions and Josiah, James and Reuben rest.

If you know me and my tendencies in parenting, what activity from this day is NOT typical?

Friday, October 21, 2011


If you read here, I hope you know that I'm doing this to preserve and remember much more than I am to prescribe. 

The other day I set about our school morning with camera in hand, just to try and capture what is typical for us right now. And remember: I said "typical". I had a little help with the photography when I needed an extra hand. 

First lessons of the morning: ready to practice our memory work. James in the packnplay sucking on a ...Knife?, Josiah on his blanket.

And...we're reciting.

Josiah stays on his blanket during Bible but the Bumbo seat he's sitting in is own special addition for today.

Oh good. Plastic knives. James plays here during Bible each morning. Usually he isn't still in his jammies... 
A note about homeschooling and housework: they generally aren't compatible goals. So we leave the morning dishes and clean up until we take a break to do chores later. This leaves us fresh energy for school. I spend a lot of time telling myself, "It will get done. It will."

After Bible comes History. We've just finished a 6 week unit on Early Colonial America. My older boys' favorite thing is to color these maps from Story of the World.

Mercy hasn't quite figured out why they like it so much.

James, still in his jammies, takes a turn on the blanket during History. Happy James.
Josiah is in there. He plays with a rotating selection of toys during his Alone Time while we study History. I think this is his happiest time of day and I will leave him to it. *tiptoes back down the hall*

Reuben is still in the stage of many naps a day. Doesn't he look cozy?

I think Mercy was having a particularly difficult time managing her mope on this day. We're almost done with maps and history... then the boys do copywork and Mercy does some handwriting practice. After that: RECESS.

We take a break before the boys hit their math books. Reuben gets a meal and James and Josiah join us.

**And I think I'll take a break here too.**

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Faces I Love

So, I'm a busy mom, like all moms out there. And recently, I've noticed a need in myself to smile more, particularly with and at my kids. Somehow it helps me to stop and remind myself that these busy little people that I am with...? I love them. I do. In an enduring, even when it's been a really rough day kind of way.

Maybe it's sad that I need that reminder. But I do. And when I stop and think about how I love them and why I love them, my perspective improves somehow. So today I'm sharing some of these little faces that I love.

Daniel... not quite in focus here. Definitely focused everywhere else! He is almost 9 years old.

 Michael, who will solve the world's problems by the time he is... I mean in about 20 minutes. He is 7.

 Mercy. 5.5 years and destined to have as many freckles as me. This one has a lot to teach me...

 Yep. This is Josiah. 3 and 1/2 years of weirdness all crammed into a size 2T spider costume.

 I love my James. He is 2 and chubby and I love the way his ears fold down in this hat.

 And Reuben... 5 months. I should take pictures of all his baby fat creases sometime before they disappear.

So there they are. I'll come back here tomorrow and look at them again if I need another reminder. 

Oh wait. Here are a couple more that I couldn't leave out: